July 13, 2007

B.C. Transit to forego hybrid buses in favour of diesels

Victoria, British Columbia – B.C. Transit (BCT), the provider of mass transit services in most of the province, has decided to forego purchasing hybrid buses in favour of diesels, according to a report from the Green Car Congress. BCT will continue to use diesels in the short-term.

The decision came after an in-service evaluation of six New Flyer hybrid buses in Victoria and Kelowna. BCT compared the hybrids to its existing 1992-2003 New Flyer diesels, and to the new Nova diesel bus. Although the hybrids offered up to 28 per cent better fuel economy than the older buses, the difference between the Nova bus was only around eight per cent. In the Kelowna service area, where average speeds are higher, the difference between the hybrid and the Nova was only about one per cent, and in some cases was worse.

BCT determined that hybrids require 7 to 11 stops per kilometre to deliver their maximum benefit, but few routes in Victoria or Kelowna meet the criterion. Officials determined that, over the vehicles’ 20-year life expectancy, fuel savings from the $800,000 hybrid buses would not offset the $500,000 cost of the Nova diesel buses.

Officials did say that BCT expects hybrids to become standard once the price differential disappears, and that it is continuing to develop and deploy a fleet of hydrogen fuel-cell buses. In April, Premier Gordon Campbell announced $45 million in funding toward the production of 20 buses and development of hydrogen fuelling stations in Whistler and Victoria, with the goal of showcasing the hydrogen fleet at the 2010 Winter Games in Whistler and placing the vehicles into regular service afterwards.

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